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How to………. get productive participation in meetings

Recent research identified that only about a quarter of a typical employee’s time is spent on “work content”.  The rest was spent on other activities including another quarter spent in meetings, many of which are seen as time wasting. 


Why are meetings often unproductive, when an internet search shows there are plenty of articles (see sample below) full of useful advice about how to run meetings more effectively? 


Much of the advice centres on the mechanicsof running a meeting – setting an agenda, sending out papers in advance, keeping to time, noting actions, following up after the meeting and so on.


Important as these are, it is often the behaviours displayed in meetings, which sabotage them, such as people turning up late, not contributing, criticising colleagues, making unhelpful remarks. 


Perhaps what we need is advice, not on how to run meetings, but how to participate in them. 


Use a team effectiveness model to encourage productive participation: be clear on what the purpose of the meeting is; establish processes to follow; create a healthy climate.








Practical actions in these three areas of purpose, process and climate include:

Purpose: WIIFM

At the beginning of the meeting, ask all participants to state their WIIFM “What’s in it for them”.  This helps focus their minds on why they should be there (or alternatively, that they shouldn’t).

Processes: ground rules

Agree ground rules about how you will interact with each other eg to ensure that all relevant contributions are heard.


Climate: check in

Get everyone to “check in” to the meeting ie say what is on their minds.  This enables anyone who has other urgent concerns to be acknowledged and supported and helps focus them on the meeting.



Essenwood Consulting Ltd